DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for nearly four decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Gator golf fights through humidity, even bugs

The mark of a good golf team is that its players can survive on days when the weather is not up to par and they are not at their best.
That was true for Xavier Prep’s Gators on Thursday (Sept. 1) when they competed in the annual Aguila tournament at the Aguila Golf Course in Laveen.
Defending state and tournament champion XCP recorded a narrow three-shot win over Chandler Hamilton (302-305), and Gators freshman Ashley Menne earned medalist honors with a three-under-par 69.
Menne was the only Gator to shoot below par. Senior Emily Mahar, the defending tournament individual champ, was next at 75. Senior Elizabeth Caldarelli was at 78, senior Lily Worden was at 80 and sophomore Eve Worden was at 85 (the top four scores go towards the team total).
Long-time Xavier coach and athletic director Sr. Lynn Winsor said the team had a very hot, grueling match on Wednesday (Aug. 31) against Glendale Mountain Ridge at a course in the northwest Valley. The Gators got a favorable draw in the Aguila by teeing off in the early morning.
The combination of heat and humidity was oppressive as the players struggled to survive at Aguila. Winsor theorized that those teams playing in the afternoon might have even more of a challenge with the elements as the temperature rose.
Hamilton, which is expected to battle Xavier for the new 6A conference title later this fall at Aguila, was one of those teams. Winsor and the Gators left the course at mid-day, and by the time they returned in late afternoon, they discovered that Winsor’s theory might have been a factor in the outcome.
“I’m thrilled for our girls and the job that Tui (Selvaratnam), co-head coach and associate athletic director) did coaching them,’’ Winsor said. “But this shows that we have a little work to do. We’ve really only had one practice – it’s mainly been only matches.’’
Menne said she played “OK, but it really wasn’t one of my best. My iron play helped me a lot. I think I need more practice on everything, especially putting.’’
Mahar said her putting left something to be desired.
“I hit the ball solid (off the tees), but I couldn’t capitalize,’’ she said. “Most of the time, if you can’t make birdies (she had two), no way are you going to be able to do anything.’’
Caldarelli said the greens were not cooperative, in part because they recently have been aerated.
“It was hard to get a good read on the speed, but I am not going to use that as an excuse,’’ she said.
Mahar had a similar assessment, and said, “If others are doing well, you can’t blame it on the course.’’
The humidity also brought out the bugs.
“My white shirt was turning brown from those things,’’ Caldarelli said.
Perhaps when the weather cools off a bit, by the time the Gators return to Aguila, the conditions will be better, along with their golf game.
Xavier has back-to-back home matches at Phoenix Country Club on Tuesday (Sept. 6) against Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor and Wednesday (Sept. 7) against Phoenix Horizon before playing in next weekend’s Antigua Invitational at McCormick Ranch Golf Club in Scottsdale.

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